A photo of a robot arm holding a processing chip

Optoelectronics collaboration transforms company to a global leader in semiconductor laser products

Fibre optic broadband is pivotal to global communication and connectivity and requires high-quality lasers to drive the increasing demand. A long-running research and development collaboration between Professor Tony Kelly and Sivers Photonics (formerly CST Global) has transformed the company to become the world’s most advanced supplier of customised III-V semiconductor photonics devices.

The research

Professor Kelly’s initial research enabled understanding of III-V semiconductor device behaviour and capability to simulate/design devices according to the intended application.

His long-running collaboration with work with CST Global, has extended this to include research into low-cost optical/radio interfaces, advanced fabrication techniques and blue laser diodes, resulting in the first practical blue semiconductor distributed feedback (DFB) laser.

This work made possible by novel gratings designed by Professor Kelly and fabricated in the University’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre. Funding included a Knowledge Transfer Partnership focussed on delivering the first product.

Additional Innovate UK funding followed and Professor Kelly’s secondment resulted in significant manufacturing advances resulting in the development of 10 Gbit/s and 25 Gbit/s laser devices.

The impact

CST Global was founded in 1990 as a University of Glasgow spin-out to providing custom compound fabrication services to the semiconductor industry. The collaboration has enabled the company to transform their business model and expand, through a shift to offering products rather than services.

The partnership began by focussing on delivery of a high-performance, low-cost laser device for next generation optical access networks, followed by additional novel products for rapidly expanding home and datacentre markets, growing to become Europe’s leading laser supplier, with an 88% turnover increase between 2016-2017.

Work broadened to include other products and CSTG was able to enter the Asian market for the first time. The partnership is marked by the seamless flow of graduates, knowledge and expertise between the company and the University for over a decade. CSTG’s strong performance and clear potential for additional growth led to its 2017 acquisition by Sivers Semiconductors.

Sivers Photonics has become Europe’s highest volume laser supplier, shipping GBP1 million laser chips/month. It has brought internet access to households around the globe with fibre-to-the-home (FTH) connectivity, currently employs 70 chip fabrication staff at a facility near Glasgow supporting supply chain companies across the UK.